Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Higgs boson physicist receives OBE

Dr Stephen Myers led a team of 2,000 researchers who worked on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva

A Belfast physicist who helped find the Higgs boson and solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe has been awarded an OBE as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Dr Stephen Myers, 66, led a team of 2,000 researchers who worked on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva in Switzerland. He was awarded the honour for services to science and technology. The experiment helped answer some of the fundamental questions of physics by recreating conditions after the Big Bang.

Dr Myers said: "It makes me very proud, we have had a lot of scientific awards this year but the OBE is something special."

He was among several Northern Ireland people recognised, including the former chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board which scrutinises the police, Brian Rea, who received a CBE.

Dr Myers is director of accelerators and technology at Cern (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), which built and operates the LHC.

The massive underground experiment accelerates two beams of subatomic particles to nearly the speed of light and then deliberately collides the beams into one another to recreate the conditions that existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang, which created the universe.

Very sensitive detectors around the tunnel then record information about the types and properties of the particles given off. The Higgs boson is a particle predicted in the 1960s by Professor Peter Higgs which explains why matter has mass. Its discovery added a final missing piece to the framework known as the Standard Model, which stands as the most widely accepted theory to explain how particles of matter interact.

Dr Myers has worked at Cern for 41 years and has been involved in all the major particle colliders since 1972. He co-wrote the first proposal for the LHC in 1983 and was heavily involved in designing it.

The scientist said specialist rivals could not match the LHC. "It was an incredible amount of data (generated), they knew that they could not compete," he said. "We were doing in one hour what they were taking six months to do."

He said he was not expecting the OBE. "I am delighted, it is a great honour, I am very happy but it is really for things that have happened in Cern rather than me personally."

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